While I think the timeline is pretty optimistic, the breadth and quality of content was first rate. Love anything by Ray Kurzweil.
Editing. 66% of the content could have been removed and it may have made an interesting book. As it is, I did not get past the first of 3 parts.
Hidden, very well hidden pearls of knowledge.
Kurzweil is extremely intelligent but should have sought advice on editing this audiobook.
If this wasn't on audio I would have never finished reading the book
It's not a character book. It's Ray's version of what future information technology will become.
For a long time listening I thought Ray might have used one of his text to speech programs to narrate the book. There was very little tone inflection which made for a dry lecture.
I was fascinated by Ray after watching a documentary and lecture on TED. He is definitely methodical and tries to close all the loops to his argument/thesis, but at the same time ties his audience around the axel.
I believe Ray's information theory is not only possible but inevitable (assuming we biological creatures don't kill ourselves first), but I don't believe Ray will be around to see it. I think he knows it. Therefore he is presenting a powerful argument in an attempt to plant the seed in the minds of humanity hoping it will force exponential growth to occur much sooner.
I would have hated this in printed format as well. The whole premise "technology has been growing extremely fast for 50 years, therefore it will continue to grow fast" is just fatuous. This unsubstantiated statement is fundamental to all the claims to follow, making the claims fatuous as well.
Once in a while, I really regret reading a book; especially regretting that the author got some of my money for nothing in return. If I knew who to ask, I'd ask for a full refund. My fault for not looking at reviews before purchasing.
I would listen to it again but only the selective parts, since the narrator is bad. After first 15min I thought the narrator is going to die, the way he spoke was like a 95 year old man with no energy and mono-tone sound. It was a rough listening. But loved the story and the information.
As an engineer I loved the technical information and sequence of story/documentary.
Probably I would, if narrator is a younger more energetic sounding person.
Tag line would be Reality Check. Discovery Channel should buy the rights to make a mini-series from this book. it will be awesome.
this book is for anyone that loves Sci-fi, science, cognition, developing future business strategies, or even deciding on which classes to take at a school. Ray is able to extrapolate a valid estimate of future events. If you have a problem understanding exponential growth, then you will have a problem understanding his value that he brings to eager minds.
Any techie or fan of Ray Kurzweil will love this book. If the narration bothers you - crank the replay speed up to x1.5 or even x2.
Geek of Many Trades
Ok Ray, we got it. You're a smart dude. Do you have to beat us over the head with your brilliance?
The initial essay about exponential growth sets the stage for Kurzweil's latest tome about the looming man-machine merger. Basically, Kurzweil shows that technological change is occurring not just at exponential rates but that the rate that the rate is changing is also exponential. It's pretty easy to look at one area of technology - computers, medicine, robotics, communication, etc. - and only perceive linear or mildly exponential growth. But Kurzweil points out that all technology crosses over. The exponential growth in computer technology influences the growth rate of medical technology. Improved medical technology influences communication. Imagine, for instance, the impact Steve Jobs had on the iPhone because of the medical technology the staved off his pancreatic cancer. Arguably, Jobs' best years were the last few before his death.
After this basic math lecture, Kurzweil then starts deconstructing everything from Wolfram's "New Kind of Science" to the blood-brain-barrier. He uses this deconstruction to minutely detail his predictions for when the Singularity will occur. This is the part of the book that gets a little tedious.
I haven't made it to the end of the book yet but it has shifted my thinking quite a bit about the Singularity. I used to take a fairly strong stance against AI, siding closely with Hubert Dreyfus. But even Dreyfus leaves open the possibility of modeling the physical brain as a path to AI. Kruzweil entirely bases his predictions on that modeling process and not on simulating human intelligence in software.
As for the recording... The volume level is consistent. The reader's voice does crack at times. I would appreciate a little more emotion in the reading but it's definitely not robotic.
Say something about yourself!
I haven't read the print, so I can't say if the audiobook is better, but I can definitely see how some people might prefer reading this, as there is some math and statistics in the book.
All the intriguing future predictions made me optimistic towards the future and the story about Kurzweil switching places with Ramona, the AI personality at a TED conference is a fun part.
There are occasionally dialogues that I guess are supposed to give a more clear view of what all the different new technologies would mean to a typical individual. This is a neat idea and one I kind of liked, but read out loud with a slow monotone robot voice they can get a bit boring (you will hear the phrase
Narration is clearly one of the weakest links in this audio book. Actually, the narrator is pretty terrible. At first I thought this was being read by some kind of text-to-voice software Kurzweil has developed. And was saying to myself,
World of Sci-fi stories is coming, sooner than you thought.
All the cool future predictions and clear reasoning why they are actually plausible make this a great book to listen. The way it's being read, and the way it's been written to, I guess a pretty advanced listener, make it a bit of a hard read. For me at last the content made it worth the work.
I really wanted to like this book. I find the subject matter fascinating, though Dr. Kurzweil's predictions do seem overly optimistic. The author also seems to take a bit of a meandering path from one concept to another with no solid logical path between them. However, the main reason I rated this book poorly is the narrator. His delivery is so painful I can't listen for more then 20 minutes without drifting off. I wonder if George K. Wilson has already experienced the singularity and all the parts of him that comprise human emotion, personality, and speech have been replaced by artificial components. Yes, it is really that bad. My advice would be buy the book in written format and read it. Unless you're a masochist in which case listening to this book while kneeling on broken glass should be right up your alley!